We were once collaborative rather than vituperative. A decade ago, no major political figure resorted to shameless attacks on the president for letting such an act of terror occur on his watch. Nor did we stall passage of urgent measures out of concern about which political party might get the credit.

We didn’t exploit the tragedy to renew debates about the size or role of government. We confronted challenges first — and considered the politics later…

The ability of our political system to muster the will to take actions necessary for the common good has degenerated to a place light-years away from our response to Sept. 11. We vowed never to forget. But our politics has.

Some may say it’s like riding a bike — and our politics will retrieve a sense of higher purpose. But since Sept. 11, other tragedies have not impelled us to rise above pettiness and come together. Terrorist attempts both successful (the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting) and unsuccessful (the Christmas Day bomber) did not cause us to look inward in any enduring way. Instead, we pointed fingers of blame over missed warning signs and politicized law enforcement’s handling of the suspects.